Guest Lists – Do As I Say, Not As I Do

This past week I sent out wedding invitations for the second time in 365 days. I now can say I am a master envelope sealer on my resume. With invitations out, now we wait for the RSVP’s to start trickling in! It’s been a full year since we first sent out those initial invitations, which got me thinking of all the things I wish I would’ve changed, starting with the guest list. I feel like this is a topic that is not talked about enough and I wish I would’ve followed the advice I’m about to share when I started planning over a year ago. 

Guest lists are kind of like that saying, “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” The first thing I would have done differently was make my guest list before choosing a venue and before figuring out my budget. Almost everything will be impacted by how many people you project will come to the big day. So before even thinking about a budget, I’d suggest figuring out how many people you will invite and then add at least another 10%. Why add? Well, I guarantee you will forget about that one family friend you haven’t seen in fifteen years, your parents will want to include in a few of their buddies, or you’ll need to add a plus one for your cousin’s on and off again boyfriend. But seriously trust me…the list will grow. 

Example Guest List Template from

One of the biggest opportunities the pandemic gave my fiancée and I was to cut our list. Instead, it grew from 140 to 170, not the direction we were hoping for. Weddings are supposed to be about spending the day with the people you love and enjoy being around the most. If you can’t imagine spending the day without those 200 people then hey, you do you! But if you’re like me and already on the fence about your guest list, make some cutting rules and actually follow them!

  1. After writing all the names of your potential wedding guests, highlight all the names of those who you could not imagine NOT having by you and your partner’s side on the big day. Most times that’s close family and friends and the bridal party. These are your VIP’s. 
  2. On your second pass through the list, ask yourself “have you or your partner spoken to them? Have you ever met them?” If either of these answers are no, don’t invite them. 
  3. So maybe you know who the person is, but have you spoken to them in the past few years? Hell, maybe it’s even one year. If any family members fall under this category you might want to come back and evaluate, but if they are not related to you or your partner then as Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator 2 said it best, “Hasta la vista, baby.”
  4. Just because you were invited to one person’s wedding, does not mean you need to feel guilty about inviting them to yours. 
  5. Not enthused by the thought of having children at your wedding? Neither am I, and that’s ok! Make it adult only and frame it as though you’re giving your guests an opportunity to celebrate without having to worry about little eyes and ears.

I honestly wish I would have followed some of these rules before I got too deep into my own wedding planning. As I sit here watching the new season of the Bachelorette, I can’t help but wonder if I am the only one who has experienced this dilemma. Anyone out there wish they would have done something differently to their guest list?



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Mikell Zanotto

Wedding Enthusiast & Bride to Be

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